WAIMEA — A good look at the big picture of agriculture is what Joao Kopytowski-Filho got out of the Agriculture Leadership Foundation of Hawaii’s Ag Leadership Program.
The research scientist at Kauai’s Dupont Pioneer is one of 10 people who graduated in October from the ALFH’s latest class, cohort 15.
“I would definitely recommend it for anyone related to agriculture or anyone who wants to understand a bit more,” Kopytowski-Filho said. “It’s good for developing relationships with farmers and other support services.”
Kopytowski-Filho applied for the program at the recommendation of co-worker Judith Rivera, who graduated in the program’s 14th cohort in 2013.
“She came back and was excited and recommended it to me as a manager,” Kopytowski-Filho said.
In order to take part in the Ag Leadership Program, students have to commit to traveling statewide and to the Mainland, mostly in four-day chunks over weekends. Included in the program is a full-month stay in Washington, DC, and Kopytowski-Filho went to Oregon as well.
“This helped, with Joao and with Judith, for them to see the big picture of agriculture in Hawaii and on the Mainland,” said Laurie Yoshida, Dupont Pioneer spokeswoman. “(They were) able to see common issues and the unique challenges in each industry.”
The cattle industry was one new piece to the agriculture puzzle for Kopytowski-Filho.
“It gave the opportunity to go see it for myself,” he said.
Washington, DC offered opportunities to meet with senators and be introduced to the realities of how the US Department of Agriculture works.
“How things work in (Washington) D.C. is just theory for many people but we were able to see it working in reality,” Kopytowski-Filho said.